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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Boost Your Joy This Christmas!

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Here it is mid- December and I'd like to ask "how are you feeling?". Looking at my "50 Health Tips" list there are many to keep in mind during what could be a stressful season.

Be Kind to Yourself


Start Each Day with Positivity

This can be an overwhelming time of year with financial pressures, family issues, loneliness, and unrealistic goals. We are bombarded with advertising, lists of best gifts, and constantly asked "how is your Christmas planning going"? Add in a pandemic that won't leave and we have a recipe for a disaster.

At this stage in life I can confidently say that I do not stress or worry about the superficial stuff one bit. I have had my share of challenging holiday seasons over the years, and what I truly remember are the small moments and the many kindnesses that were extended to my family during our toughest years. These are what truly matter in the end aren't they? I am still absolutely floored by the dollar amount spent on gifts, followed by worry about paying those bills next month. And to what end?

I recently read about a woman who has more than 3 dozen Christmas her home! What even...? Let me correct myself - I read the first few lines of the article then decided I wasn't interested. Many of these were real trees; I don't object one bit to having a real tree, but what is the point in cutting down multiple trees for one family? These high expectations and visions of perfect, harmonious families used to cause me a lot of stress, and honestly a feeling of being a failure. Fortunately I was disciplined enough to not go into debt, but I tended to look at everything I did, compare it, and end up feeling lacking. Thank goodness there was no social media back then! If you are feeling overwhelmed or get caught in a 'perfectionist' loop, this article has a few tips that could help.

I have had 66 Christmases and as I look back, I think about a heartbreaking time that was made incredible by so many kind people. December 1995, I found myself on my own with 4 children, a part-time job and an empty bank account. These are the moments I will never forget: my siblings and friends that dropped off a small gift just so 'mom' had something under the tree. My heart bursting at the almost excessive amount of gifts that came from the school and church when they learned of our plight. Waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa (a dear friend & neighbour) had left a big red bag on our porch with very special gifts, including 'real' Maple Leaf jerseys for the three boys (something that never would have been in my budget!). Another thoughtful friend that gave me a cozy red robe (that I wore until last year!). These special moments continued throughout the years.

I would worry that my budget for Christmas was so small; the kids' friends seemed to get gifts that were valued 3-4 x what I could spend. I'd wrap socks, pj's, clothing and more so they had several presents to open along with a few toys. But when Christmas morning came, I know that they had just as much fun opening gifts, and I don't believe they ever felt lacking. What I do I know for sure is that these lean years taught them life skills and a value system that serves them well as adults.

The most joy I receive (other than time with our grandchildren at this time) is that I am able to give back and help others in need. Having volunteered for the wonderful Christmas charity Holiday Helpers for many years, has really opened my eyes to the absolutely desperate situations so many people endure. This my friends, is in the GTA - one of the wealthiest cities in the world. There is no greater way to remind ourselves of how lucky we are than to help those with less.

Here's your opportunity to ramp up your own joy: We are in desperate need of more volunteers to wrap up the giving. I cannot put into words how amazing it is to deliver a full Christmas to a family that has so little. (I won't lie - I get teary doing these deliveries) Drivers are needed out of Mississauga for tomorrow, Thursday Dec 16 and Sunday December 19. It's takes just a few hours and make a huge difference - register here and I promise you will be glad you did. Our Hamilton workshop is also desperate for help -- It runs Thursday through Sunday (Dec 16-19) if that is more convenient. Same link to become a Santa's Helper.

Don't Delay - Sign up TODAY!

Questions? Contact me at 905-330-5266 or

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